Connecting the East Lake community and beyond

January 2022 – June 2022 Archived Sermon Notes

January 9, 2022: Connected and Held in Love

Are you longing to hear God’s voice? What would it be like to hear God call you by name? For many it seems that God spoke to people long ago & far away, but now in this time & place God’s voice is much less clear & less audible. Perhaps we cannot hear the voice of God because our world is full of noise? Read more

January 16, 2022: 1st World Problems – A Jesus Approach in a Ronco World

Epiphanies don’t just happen in church—a sudden insight can lead to a “Eureka!” in scientific experiments, an “Aha!” in a detective’s casework, a “Checkmate!” in a fierce chess game, & even a self-satisfied “Yes!” in Sudoku, crosswords, or finding a set of lost keys. So, too, epiphanies about the true nature of Christ come in a variety of words, actions, & places in our gospel readings during the Sundays after Epiphany. Read more

January 23, 2022: Lessons from the Watergate

Playgrounds still resound with “sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But those words ring hollow. As adults, & as children, we know only too well the power of words to do harm. In contrast, the scriptures for today point us to the word that bears hope, promise, & life. Read more

January 30, 2022: Creating a Holy Disturbance

At 1st, Jesus is seen as the hometown boy made good. Something changes. God’s vision is certainly a challenge, & now Jesus, with the words of the prophets, is unleashing a disturbance in the domestic, tamed, controlled ways of the world & its powers. Jesus & Jeremiah become key illustrations & open conversation of how we are formed, equipped, & called to live God’s agape love, even when surrounded by challenges, obstacles, or hostility. Where is God calling us? How must we confront our own or the community’s barriers? What prophetic word are we being called to speak that might cause a holy disturbance?  Read more

February 6, 2022: A Big Fish Story That’s Not About a Fish

What is revealed in us when God is revealed to us? Are we ashamed like Peter in the presence of God? Are we energized? A bit of both? Do we even recognize when it takes place? Our boats are so full of opportunities, resources, responsibilities, & invitations that we may feel like we are sinking. Abundance can feel burdensome at times. How does Jesus’ invitation to follow put abundance into perspective & guide our decisions about what to do with that abundance? Read more

February 13, 2022: The Kingdom Gap

A fundamental decision is placed before us this day: Will we choose the way of blessing or the way of woe? The death and resurrection of Jesus is the pivot on which the decision turns. To be in Christ means that we get planted by streams of water and are rooted among those who thirst for God’s reign. The mystery of our faith points the path to life: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Read more

February 20, 2022: The Purpose of the Church

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Joseph lives it in Egypt. Jesus preaches it in the gospel. The Spirit guides us into merciful lives with the power of forgiveness to reconcile what is fractured & divided. Such merciful living is the baptismal blessing of having put on Christ. It is the gift of the life-giving Spirit. It is a reflection of God’s glory revealed in Christ. Read more

February 27, 2022: Face it; A Connection with God Changes us and then the World

Witnesses to the glory of God in the face of Jesus reflect that glory in the world. It was true for Moses. It was doubtless true for Peter, James, & John. We pray that it will be true of all of us who see God’s glory in the word & in the supper & who are being “transformed into the same image” by God’s Spirit. Read more

March 6, 2022: Pillow or Paver Identity

Each year, Lent begins with a synoptic account of the testing of Jesus. Jesus was truly human, suffering from the devil’s temptations no less than we, and so he can stand by us when we are tested. We too are accompanied with the Spirit of God when we confront evil. Lent has traditionally been understood as a time to focus on resistance to evil. Jesus is able to have his thinking, behavior and approach to life tested because his identity foundation is secure. He can resist very alluring and seductive temptations not because he knows the scriptures so well but because he trusts that God’s care and relationship with him will produce something better in the long run. The temptations themselves might give him something that is good and that he wants in the short run. The focus though is the long run of who he will be, how his identity is shaped, confirmed and improved and who/what God is doing in and through him. While Jesus is able to resist all the temptations that come to him – we often are not. Instead of beating ourselves up and feeling excessively guilty, ashamed and depressed, what positive growth piece or experience can we take away from this? Can we see that the experiences of resisting temptation help us focus more and more on what matters most, on who we really are and want to be, and what role having our identity placed squarely on our relationship with God provides for us? Read more

March 13, 2022: Chivalry vs Chauvinism- God’s Reassurance & Desire to Thoughtfully Care

Though we sometimes doubt & often resist God’s desire to protect & save us, our God persists. In holy baptism, God’s people have been called & gathered into a God-initiated relationship that will endure. Lent provides the church with a time & a tradition in which to seek God’s face again. Lent provides another occasion to behold the God of our salvation in the face of the Blessed One who “comes in the name of the Lord.” Read more

March 20, 2022: Grow Up and Enjoy Life; Grab your Last Chance

The call to repentance is not merely an expression of the law but also an invitation grounded in grace. It invites us to lay down our facades of righteousness & be freed of the burden to look good when we are struggling. The beginning of today’s passage from Isaiah invites reflection, confession, & repentance that can be particularly freeing: Where are we spending money that doesn’t bring true joy or peace? Where or how are we laboring without producing meaningful contribution, security, or hope? Who is telling us we must continue in practices that don’t build up us or anyone else, & how can we listen to the invitation from God to be freed for different choices that satisfy?  Read more

April 24, 2022: Be a Thomas Truthseeker-Destroyer of Conspiracy Theories

The narrative in Acts 5 gives us a sense of the boldness of Peter & the apostles after they are filled with God’s Spirit. They defied authority & risked incarceration & death, all in the name of Jesus. Drawing inspiration from our ancestors in the faith, we too are called to be bold in our proclamation & witness, in both word & deed. Read more

May 1, 2022: Oh the Changes in me from Making a Life to Learning to Live

When we encounter Jesus, we are changed and will never be the same. Jesus can be revealed in a blinding light on the road, in an abundance of fish, in breakfast on the beach. God uses all sorts of surprising things—bread, wine, water, words of forgiveness—to convert us. Like baptism, this conversion is both a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing event and a daily process—a change that comes again and again, like Jesus’ question to Peter: “Do you love me?” Read more

May 8, 2022: Being a Good Shepherd Mom

There are many voices that tell us how to grow closer to God: by having a prescribed religious experience, by believing the correct doctrine, by reaching a higher level of knowledge or a higher level of morality. By contrast, the Good Shepherd tells us that everything depends on belonging to him. Never does our status before God depend on how we feel, on having the right experience, on being free of doubt, or on what we accomplish. It depends on one thing only: that we are known by the shepherd: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, & they follow me. I give them eternal life, & they will never perish” (John 10:28). Read more

May 15, 2022: Love That’s Not Mutual

Through the depth of the texts for this day, people are invited to explore the beauty and the messiness of community. The church, like any other human organization, is filled with the challenges of what it means to live together (for example, who is welcome? What rules do people need to follow? How do we care for one another?). Unlike other human institutions, however, we are called to be centered and re-centered in the unapologetic love for others. In our imperfection we are welcomed and called to invite others. We offer, in a spirit of humility, signs of welcome and love to others, just as God in Christ has been revealed to us. Read more

May 22, 2022: An Abiding Presence in the Matrix of Life

How do you understand Jesus’ statement, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words….?” Is this about obedience for you…so you have to study, and discipline yourself in the bible and its precepts and then everyday is considered a test on that knowledge level and practice?….and if you pass, “my Father will love them?” OR Is this about growing into a deeper awareness and connection of love with God and who Jesus was? And in the development of that awareness, understanding and experience of shaping my life around the reality of who Jesus was that I find myself being drawn deeper and deeper into a living of life that is defined by Love itself? How do we understand, “Keeping God’s Word”, then? Read more

May 29, 2022: Finding Hope in Laying Slain Bodies in Jesus’ Wounded Hands

Today’s gospel reading is first and foremost a prayer. It is Jesus’ prayer, and we are given the privilege of listening in as he prays on behalf of his disciples and people of all times and places. Listeners are given a glimpse of Jesus’ mission for the world—that all may be drawn into the life of the triune God. On the eve of his death, Jesus entrusts this particular community of disciples—but also our communities, our lives, and our world—into the care of God. What is it Jesus is doing when he prays? What is it the church does when it prays on behalf of the world and other people?

We pray: Lord Jesus Christ, your own mother looked on when your life ended in violence. Our hearts are pierced with grief and anger at the death of children and their teachers in the mass shooting in Uvalde. We commend the slain to your wounded hands, and their loved ones to your merciful heart, trusting only in the promise that your love is stronger than death, and that even now, you live and reign forever and ever. Amen. Read more

June 5, 2022: Passionate Breathing is Holy Living

Anthropologists describe fire as one of the markers of the human species. For tens of thousands of years, humans gathered around fire for light, warmth, protection, community, and better food. Many passages in the Bible liken God to fire. The Holy Spirit of God appeared on Sinai in flames of fire, which on Pentecost appeared on the forehead of each believer. Moses experienced God in fire; through fire the Israelites presented offerings to God; God led the people through the wilderness with a pillar of
fire. Seraphim are fire-spirits, extensions of the divine. Yet fire is also a sign of divine judgment: the angel in Eden hides the tree of life from humanity with a sword of fire, and John the Baptist predicts that fire will consume the chaff. Fire both occasions human life and has the power to destroy. Think fire, think God. The Hebrew noun ruah can be translated into English as spirit, breath, or wind. Spirit is the most amorphous of these words. In Christian theology, the Spirit that we experience is the Spirit of the risen Christ, a spirit of service, a spirit of love, a spirit of resurrection beyond death. Read more 

June 12, 2022: Secrets for Living a Good Life

The doctrine of the Trinity invites us to consider how a God constituted by relationship—the Father with the Son, the Son with the Spirit, the Spirit with the Father—draws us into that relationship with God & one another. Gradually or suddenly, through the work of the Spirit, we come to know our belonging to the Father & to Christ’s body. In such loving relationships, truth is discovered. But people cannot bear the truth all at once, so discipleship & faith formation are gradual processes of listening for the Spirit’s voice. Christian practices such as worship, learning, & service are occasions for people of all ages to be “guided into truth.” Such practices are rooted in baptism, in which God draws us into a lifelong relationship in which we grow into truth & love over time—guided by the Spirit, accompanied by Jesus, & having peace with the Father. Read more

June 19, 2022: What has God Done What Do I Say

We feel powerless when life’s storms rage about us. Despite our best efforts, we cannot navigate those dangers without the hand of God to guide & free us. In the gospel, the man with demons was unable to help himself. Even though he was an outsider from the land of the Gerasene’s, Jesus came to his aid. Together, today’s texts recount the journey of faith from bondage to freedom, from separation to unity, from death to new life. & this is a path open to all, no matter who we are or from whence we’ve come. The scriptures energize us to join that man in the gospel who went out proclaiming “how much Jesus had done for him,” even to those who would rather not hear it. Read more